Rolls-Royce Excellence in Helicopter Maintenance Award
Aviation Maintenance Technician 2nd Class
Nicholas H. Baisden
U.S. Coast Guard Air Station New Orleans, La.
Following the April 20, 2010 explosion of the offshore rig Deepwater Horizon, Air Station New Orleans acted as a major hub of U.S. Coast Guard aviation operations. With four additional aircraft deployed to the station, the maintenance workload increased by 95 percent on a team already diminished due to military transfers. AMT2 Nicholas H. Baisden demonstrated exceptional leadership throughout the duration of the response, guiding 72 mechanics temporarily assigned there.
During the height of the disaster clean-up effort, Baisden personally spearheaded a three-member crew to replace a cracked helicopter gearbox. Despite completing the gearbox installation at 0200, he rallied his team at first light to complete flight testing, returning the aircraft to service in only three days. When a damaged tail rotor blade bearing was discovered on an aircraft away from home station, Baisden was hand-picked to lead the repair and recovery effort. Arriving at the remote airfield after dark, he replaced the bearing and completed the ground runs by the headlight illumination of a government vehicle. Required testing was completed at sunrise, and the helicopter was returned to operational status in record time. Baisden was also selected as the senior technician on a Heavy Maintenance Team, focusing on major maintenance evolutions. The team was able to reduce interval time by 14 percent.
During the most demanding of surge operations, AMT2 Nicholas H. Baisden demonstrated significant leadership, superior skill and a stalwart dedication to duty—excellence in the performance of helicopter maintenance of the type that this award was created to recognize.
Sikorsky Humanitarian Service Award
The Crew of U.S. Coast Guard Helicopter 6605
U.S. Coast Guard Air Station New Orleans, La.
On the evening of April 20, 2010, aircrews from Air Station New Orleans were called into action following the Deepwater Horizon offshore rig explosion. Three MH-65Cs from the station responded, the first of which was the crew of Coast Guard helicopter 6605—Lt. Cdr. Thomas Hickey, copilot Lt. Cdr. Craig Murray, flight mechanic/hoist operator AET2 Scott Lloyd and rescue swimmer ASTC Kurt Peterson.
Having assumed on‑scene command for the numerous aircraft and vessels converging on the site, Hickey made several low passes within 150 feet of the rig to search for survivors in the face of 600-foot flames and explosions on the rig.
Following the initial search, Lloyd lowered Peterson on to the Offshore Supply Vessel Damon B. Bankston, which had embarked the survivors of the explosion. Once aboard, Peterson trudged through the oil and drilling mud that covered the ship to team up with two medical technicians already onboard. Providing steadfast leadership, Peterson triaged survivors with compound fractures and third‑degree burns, determining medical priority and staging them in groups for evacuation. Peterson orchestrated rescue efforts of the most critically injured for four grueling hours.
With little power margin and minimal visual references, Murray battled convective thermals from the burning rig to expertly maneuver the aircraft through five extremely demanding hoists, delivering the survivors to awaiting paramedics in New Orleans.
The crew of 6605 demonstrated superior airmanship, judgment and courage in one of the deadliest oil rig disasters in U.S. history. Their efforts that night directly resulted in five lives saved and the triage of more than 115 people.
AgustaWestland Safety Award
Airborne Law Enforcement Association
Keith Johnson began his career in law enforcement more than 40 years ago with the Los Angeles Police Department, where he served as the assistant commanding officer in the Air Support Division. During that time, he developed safety practices still in place today, including standards for pilots, flight officers and command staff.
Eurocopter Golden Hour Award
In 2002, Johnson became the first safety program manager for the Airborne Law Enforcement Association (ALEA), a position he holds to this day. In this position he developed the “ALEA Safety First Program.” One of his most recent and notable accomplishments is the “Safety Management System Tool Kit,” a compilation of best practices and safety solutions for law enforcement agencies.
Johnson writes articles for Air Beat magazine, produces a monthly safety newsletter and posters for the airborne law enforcement community, and moderates the safety section of the ALEA Web site. He serves as the ALEA expert on safety issues, and instructs at all regional safety seminars and the ALEA annual conference. Johnson has testified and served as an expert witness numerous times on law enforcement and fire service helicopter operations.
Johnson has served on the Airborne Law Enforcement Accreditation Commission and is currently the lead assessor, assisting in the evaluation and accreditation of law enforcement air units. Johnson is also a member of the International Helicopter Safety Team, charged with reducing worldwide helicopter accidents by 80 percent by 2016, and of its Joint Helicopter Safety Implementation Team.
To this day, Keith Johnson continues to mentor pilots and air units worldwide. His unparalleled devotion to aviation safety, law enforcement and education embody the qualities celebrated by this award.
W. A. (Dub) Blessing Certified Flight Instructor of the Year Award
Lawrence V. Graves
Chief Pilot, AgustaWestland
Lawrence V. “Larry” Graves completed naval fight training in 1969 and deployed to the North Atlantic, the Mediterranean Sea, Vietnam and Puerto Rico. His civilian career began at AgustaWestland in 1979, as a staff pilot and customer flight instructor. He was promoted to chief pilot in 1981.
One of the first to receive FAA type rating certification for the AW139, Graves has provided instruction on all AgustaWestland civil helicopters, training more than 2,500 pilots across North and South America. Graves has set a 30-year standard of excellence for pilots graduating to twin engines, with 98 percent of his 12,000-plus hours of flight time on IFR/twin engine helicopters.
In 2008, Graves led a team to the Los Angeles City Fire Department Air Operations Division to provide instruction on the AW139 for pilots with no prior experience with a flight management system or retractable landing gear. The training resulted in successful type rating for all nine pilots on the program.
Over the past 15 years, Graves has been an integral part of annual, on-site recurrent training for the Florida Power and Light Company, always exceeding ground and flight training expectations.
Graves holds two World Air Sports Federation world speed records. On Sept. 13, 1981 he flew from Los Angeles to Las Vegas in an AgustaWestland A109A at an average speed of 274.26 kph; on Oct. 7, 1981 he flew from Washington, D.C. to New York City in an A109A at an average speed of 312.23 kph.
With his vast technical knowledge, effective communication skills and refined instruction methods, Larry Graves has established and maintained consistently high standards, making an undoubted difference to students’ lives and to the helicopter industry.
The Air Zermatt/Fishtail Air
Helicopter Mountain Rescue Team
The Air Zermatt/Fishtail Air Helicopter Mountain Rescue Team, based in Kathmandu, Nepal, is made up of pilots and mountain rescue specialists from Switzerland’s Air Zermatt and Nepalese helicopter charter company Fishtail Air. They operate a fleet of one Eurocopter AS350B, an AS350B2 and two AS350B3s. The team specializes in a technique originated in the Swiss Alps in 1970 whereby a rescue specialist hangs beneath a helicopter on a longline extended up to 656 feet to reach and extract survivors from mountains.
On April 28, 2010, pilots Sabin Basnyat and Daniel Aufdenblatten and mountain rescue specialist Richard Lehner were tasked with rescuing three climbers from a Spanish expedition suffering from exhaustion, altitude sickness and frostbite at Camp Four on Nepal’s Mount Annapurna. The team flew to the Annapurna base camp and, after meeting with the Spanish expedition leader, conducted a reconnaissance flight.
After locating the climbers, who had been stranded at 22,800 feet for 36 hours, Aufdenblatten had the doors and chairs of the helicopter removed to better contend with the high altitude. Lehner then extracted each climber one by one, flying with them in turn to base camp while suspended beneath the helicopter on the longline. This was the highest longline rescue in history.
Just two days prior, the same team had rescued four Korean climbers and three Nepalese Sherpas from Mount Manaslu, extracting them from an altitude of about 21,000 feet.
Unfortunately, Sabin Basnyat died on Nov. 7, 2010 while in the process of rescuing a group of Japanese climbers trapped at 20,500 feet on Mount Ama Dablam.
With their selfless dedication to saving lives, the Air Zermatt/Fishtail Air Helicopter Mountain Rescue Team fully embodies the spirit of the Eurocopter Golden Hour Award.
Excellence in Communications Award
Guy R. Maher
Vertical magazine and Lanier Media
Awidely-respected photojournalist, Guy R. Maher has spent 30 years providing a vital and unique firsthand perspective on the aviation industry.
Maher began flying in 1968 and has logged more than 15,000 flight hours. Since 1989, he has flown for Air Methods, and is currently on an IFR HEMS contract with the North Carolina Baptist Hospital’s AirCare program in Winston-Salem.
Maher began his journalism career in 1980, writing and photographing for General Aviation News. Since then, he has written and photographed for Southern Aviator, Rotor & Wing, Air Ambulance and Helicopter World. He joined Vertical magazine in 2003. His work for Vertical has ranged from pilot reviews of new helicopter models to articles on training and safety. As a working helicopter EMS pilot, Maher has a particular interest in promoting safety and accountability in the HEMS sector and has frequently written about HEMS issues.
For the last 32 years, through his company Lanier Media, Maher has written and developed numerous award-winning videos on flight operations, safety, human factors and training. He conceived, developed and produced the “Pressure Points” series of human factors videos for the FAA, including “Aeromedical Helicopter Pilot Decision Making,” “Commercial Helicopter Pilot Decision Making” and “Offshore Helicopter Pilot Decision Making.” For the past eight years, he has also developed the yearly multimedia training for the National Agricultural Aviation Association’s safety program. That focus has been further complemented by his work as an FAA aviation safety counselor and FAA Safety Team representative.
With a deep commitment to dissemination of information about the helicopter and tangibly promoting a focus on safety, Guy Maher is richly deserving of the Excellence in Communications Award.
Bell Helicopter Lifetime Achievement Award
MD Helicopters Law Enforcement Award
Michael C. Hurst
Chief Pilot, PHI, Inc
Michael C. “Mike” Hurst’s impressive aviation career spans nearly five decades. After flying 800 combat hours in Vietnam, where he earned a Bronze Star, two Distinguished Flying Crosses and other commendations, Hurst joined PHI as a line pilot in 1974. He was promoted to chief pilot in 1994.
Hurst instituted one of the first ever helicopter flight data monitoring (HFDM) programs for PHI. As an early member of the International Helicopter Safety Team (IHST), he still serves as representative to the Global HFDM Committee of IHST. Hurst also developed PHI’s procedures for night‑vision goggles (NVGs) and contributed to PHI’s 100 percent NVG-use on operations, an industry first for large operators.
In the early 1990s, Hurst developed and implemented crew resource management and aeronautical decision-making courses for PHI. Those courses were among the earliest of their kind and led to Hurst being awarded the FAA Louisiana Flight Instructor of the Year award in 1993.
Hurst was instrumental in the development of PHI’s Enhanced Operational Control Program and was intimately involved in the harmonization of FAA and European Joint Aviation Authorities regulations during the mid‑1990s. He was also a driving member of the Helicopter Safety Advisory Committee (HSAC), which successfully modernized IFR operations in the Gulf of Mexico, culminating with the launch of ADS-B operations there.
The Bell Helicopter Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes long and significant service to the international helicopter community. With more than 40 years of dedicated service to this industry, Mike Hurst has left an indelible mark on aviation, aeronautics and safety management around the world.
The Crew of U.S. Coast Guard Helicopter 6597
HITRON Aviation Detachment 10-01
Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron Jacksonville, Fla.
Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron (HITRON) is the only aviation unit designated by the U.S. government to employ nighttime airborne use of force in the execution of counter-drug operations.
On the nights of Nov. 20 and 30, 2010, the crew of 6597, consisting of Lt. Cdr. Robert S. Workman, Capt. Joseph T. Baker, Lt. j.g. Matthew J. Van Ginkel, AET3 Kimberly N. Dechmerowski, AMT1 Thomas J. Masell, AET1 Joseph D. Paulson, AMT2 Brian M. Dugal and AMT3 Jacob S. Dickson, intercepted “go-fast”-type vessels while in support of Joint Interagency Taskforce South counter-drug operations. On both occasions, the crew issued orders for the vessels to halt. After they refused the orders, the crew laid down M240 automatic weapon fire forward of the vessels’ bows before using an M107 .50 caliber rifle to disable the vessels. Well-placed heavy‑class rifle rounds rendered the vessels dead in the water and the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Sherman’s small-boat crews boarded the vessels. The two interdictions netted 39 bales of cocaine worth $27 million.
On Dec. 3, responding to a patrol aircraft report, 6597 covertly inspected four “go-fast” vessels traveling in formation. Warning shots were delivered, followed by disabling fire. During the operation, the crew was forced to alternate between precision marksmanship and search and rescue when some of the smugglers bailed out of their vessels to avoid capture. After several hours, the crew had made nine arrests and seized 14 bales of cocaine with a street value in excess of $10 million.
The results obtained by the crew of 6597, including the unprecedented feat of stopping four vessels in one mission, are unique, making their contribution to the promotion and advancement of helicopters in support of law enforcement activities unquestionable.
Pilot of the Year Award
Lt. Audie Andry
U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak, Alaska
On Sept. 30, 2010, Lt. Audie Andry was completing night training to the flight deck of the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Healy near Sitkinak Island, Alaska when his Sikorsky MH-60J Jayhawk experienced a catastrophic failure of the diaphragm coupling attaching the Number Two engine to the right-hand input module of the main transmission. This occurred while hovering only 40 feet above the water and 100 feet from the cutter.
When the coupling failed, the load on the engine went to zero and the power turbine immediately oversped, resulting in a flameout of the Number Two engine. Following the loss of power from Number Two, the Number One engine reached maximum power torque at 163 percent, insufficient to maintain flight in the high power-demand hover. The rotor speed immediately dropped to 68 percent, well below the range for effective controllability.
Andry quickly and correctly lowered collective to an appropriate level to recover rotor speed and minimize the rate of descent while carefully pitching the aircraft towards the cutter. As the helicopter came over the flight deck, winds swirling around the cutter’s superstructure further exacerbated the power deficit. The resultant decrease in rotor rpm caused a loss of tail rotor effectiveness, spinning the aircraft 70 degrees to the right. With generators failed due to low rotor speed, Andry reduced collective and successfully landed the spinning aircraft, coming to a full stop with the tail wheel just two feet from the cutter’s edge.
Taking split-second action, Andry demonstrated the exceptional airmanship demanded of this award. His urgent and decisive actions potentially saved the lives of all six aircrew and prevented any damage to or loss of life on the Healy.
"To honor those who have given so much and to encourage the attainment of the highest standards of professionalism in the international helicopter community."